I haven't written a 15 Things post in a while. If you're just joining us, I decided to identify 15 things I've learned since I started this blog about 18 months ago. When I sit down to write posts about the 15 things I blurted out, I have a hard time. Because it's not that I didn't know these 15 things before. And some of them keep slipping away, elusive bastards, so perhaps I haven't really learned them all that well yet. But mostly, the 15 things I've identified feel like life lessons I've finally started to trust. And this one might be the best one of all: People are kind.
Having a blog for me is a bunch of things. It's writing practice. It's a new way to make friends. And it's my journal and my confidant. Which means you guys, my readers, are my confidants. Which is pretty strange, since mostly we haven't met, and you're sitting out there across the wires in a place I've never visited, living a life I wouldn't recognize, worrying about people and things I've never imagined. It's kind of strange to trust you with all the feelings I haven't sorted out, and all the little fragments or special moments that I notice that make me happy or wistful or lonesome or inspired. When I sit down to write I still have a careful voice sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear and telling me, "You can't say that. Do you know how that makes you sound? Everyone will know that you are [dorky/ childish/ naiive/ selfish/ dreamy/ scattered/ snobby/ ignorant/ unpolished/ idealistic/ silly/ provincial /etc.]. Do you know that you will be found on Google by everyone in the world you wish to impress in your life and they will see right through your facade and reject you and cast you out forever?"
But this is the best part. I have learned how to ignore that voice, most of the time. "Thanks for looking out for me," I say. "I'm glad you're concerned. I'll definitely read it over before I hit publish." And I do read what I've written over, and sometimes I don't publish. Sometimes what I want to say is motivated by pettiness or malice; I'm tired and ungenerous. Sometimes it is directed to a person who I want to talk to but haven't figured out how, and so I've written a sideways post to communicate a private message that doesn't really belong here. Sometimes it's a secret I want to tell but I can't. Sometimes it's something I want to write about, feelings about a person or a situation, but I am not ready to reveal in real life. Those times I listen to the voice and say, publishing this is not a good idea. But there are other posts that trigger my nervous editor voice that I do publish in spite of my fears. Those are posts that show who I really am, half-formed and scared and clumsy and hopeful and impractical and sensitive and undisciplined and peculiar. And the voice tells me not to publish those posts because if I do everyone will KNOW all the ways I don't have it all together.
In the past 18 months I've learned to ignore the voice when it says that. I'm not afraid any more that if people knew the real me, if I really let people see the truth about me, I'll be rejected. It's just not going to happen. Because people are kind. They really are. The more I relax into that, the more I see it reinforced. It gets easier and easier to take risks. People want to be kind.
Is there more to say about this? I don't know. Of course there are people who aren't kind but when I've looked at them, carefully, they are people who are afraid or are threatened. I don't think my honesty threatens anyone. So I don't need to be afraid of the unkindness that arises from bitterness or fear. It hasn't happened so far. And of course there are people who aren't kind because they're wrapped up in their own worlds -- who are indifferent and shut off. But that's okay; I don't need to reach everyone, and I'm not writing this stuff to get attention. And I have been surprised at how vulnerability seems to penetrate indifference. People will help you if you let them. They will comfort you if you reveal your sadness. They will remind you that you aren't alone. We aren't alone, it turns out. We're surrounded by kind people who want to know us, and to be known.